BEAVER VALLEY CHURCH HISTORY
Beaver Valley Church 1864 -- 1964
The following excerpt is from the Centennial Program for the Beaver Valley Church; submitted by John and Mary Gates.
Note: At the time of the centennial, the Beaver Valley Church was affiliated with the Evangelical United Brethren. The EUB has since merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church.
THE FALLEN TIMBER CIRCUIT
When our first class was founded in 1864 it was a member of the Fallen Timber Circuit. Other churches on this circuit were the Fallen Timber Church, Utahville Church, Roseland Church, Blans Run Church (according to our records dropped in 1876), Pleasant Hill Church, Oak Grove Class (five members - one was expelled, one killed himself, two were dropped. Dissolved around 1875-1876), the class at Lloydsville (started April 3, 1876 with three members, eight more were added on April 8, and one each in October and November. Rev. John L. Baker recorded this report on the condition of the class around 1878-1879: "Some of the members are still at Lloydsville, but whether they consider themselves members now or not I do not know. Quarterly Conference relieved me of preaching there this year. They have not attended preaching at Pleasant Hill, they have not paid anything, so I leave it as it is. I make no report of that appointment."
The Coalport Church was added in 1886 with a class of thirty members according to the report of Rev. B. J. Hummell. For the first time in 1887 Rev. Hummel reports a class at Allmansville of sixteen members. He lists a class of ten at Madera in 1887 but as it does not appear again we must assume it disbanded that same year.
In 1887 the Irvona Class was added to the circuit, the class having six members. Rev. Cook in his report stated, "I visited Irvona and permanently organized the Society - at this meeting Bro. Syrus Houser was elected Class Leader and Annie Houser was elected Steward - preaching every two weeks".
At the Annual Conference held in Orbisona on September 22, 1887, the Fallen Timber Circuit was divided. It is now called the Coalport Circuit and the Fallen Timber Mission Circuit. Coalport includes churches at Utahville, Beaver Valley, and Irvona. Fallen Timber churches at Pleasant Hill, No. 2 Schoolhouse, Almonsville and new points on Cresson R. R. This notation was made by Rev. Hummel in 1887.
At the Quarterly Conference of November 19, 1887, we quote from the recorded minutes of that session, "By decision of the Committees on Boundaries of the Allegheny Conference of the United Brethren in Christ held in the United Brethren Church in Orbisonia, Huntingdon County, Penna. on September 22, 1887 - That Beaver Valley, Irvona, Madera, Utahville and Coalport be known as the Coalport Charge of which today, Saturday, the 19th of September 1887 is called to order the first Quarterly Meeting of the Coalport Charge by the Presiding Elder J. Medsger." Statement by the Elder of his active work in the field of labor being in a prosperous condition.
Statement of Bro. G. Cook Pastor in charge as to his charge as having fulfilled his appointment and so forth is well pleased with the thought that the year may be one of prosperity in saving many souls converted and many members received received into the church.
"Resolved that the Pastor's salary shall be five hundred dollars and be assessed as follows: Coalport, $200; Utahville, $180; Beaver Valley, $100; and Irvona, $20." "Be it resolved that Pastor be allowed to collect his own house rent from the different appointments.
"Beaver Valley paid to the P. E. $2.30 and Coalport $4.19."
J. H. Meredith, Sec'y.
At the first Quarterly Conference held in Coalport on December 18, 1907 the following was noted concerning the Irvona Church: "Matter of the Irvona Church taken up. Reports show that the property is in such condition that it is not wise to repair. On motions of William Hunter and John Pemberthy of Irvona the Trustee Board be declared vacant. Bros. Isaac Gates and S. D. Spacht were elected to fill vacancies. On motion Board of Trustees were authorized and empowered to dispose of Irvona Church property." P. A. Esch, Secretary. Thus the class at Irvona passed into history.
It was about this time the Utahville Church was taken from the Coalport Charge.
Some of the Quarterly Conference secretaries who served long and faithfully were these: D. Strayer, I. W. Gates, D. L. Kline, P. C. Gates, George I. Gates, J. B. Kevin, Mrs. W. T. Moore, Perry Esch, W. M. Boone, I. E. Kachelreis, W. T. Moore, Pearl Esch, Suzanne Hemskey and James Tasker.
It is interesting to read the comments on the work of the charge by the pastors and various department heads of the churches.
While it is good to recall our rich heritage, yet we must live not in the past, but turn our eyes forward to the future, taking stock of where we are and asking God to give us greater visions of what we ought to be and can be with His help and full-time commitment on the part of our members. We face the future with great hopes.
THE FIRST CHURCH FROM 1864 -- 1908
The church at Beaver Valley was built in 1864 on what is now the entrance to the church parking lot. Along the side of Church Hill at one time were sheds for horses and a fence between the church and cemetery. All have long since vanished.
There were many families who helped organize the first class and build the original church, but the name of Isaac Gates, Sr. stands foremost among them.
Let us take a brief look at Mr. Gates. He was born September 7, 1818 and his wife Mary was born in 1819 in Antis Township in Blair County.
When Mrs. Gates was six years of age her parents decided to locate in what is now Reade Township because of greater advantages for securing a home on the western slopes of the Allegheny Mountains. There were few roads in those days and Mary (Mrs. Gates) was compelled to walk the entire journey as the family had no other means of transportation. They located on what is now known as the Perry Troxell farm.
Mary and one of her sisters, Margaret, had to carry a chicken in their arms the entire distance. It got away once and caused a considerable commotion until it was recaptured.
After arriving at their new home they exerted all their efforts to get the land cleared for farming by Christmas of 1825. They planted their first field of wheat on what is now the Roseland Picnic grounds.
As time went on Mary was courted by a hardy young pioneer named Isaac Gates, Sr. who became her husband in 1842. Mary had no formal education and we would say today that she was educated in the "school of hard knocks." But this fitted her well for her new duties she was assuming as a wife and mother.
They set up housekeeping in a little log house owned by George Walters, Sr. located near the site of the old Shope mill. Here the first child was born and named Matilda. Isaac was employed as a sawyer on the first saw mill in this area.
Our founders were hard-working and frugal and after a time they were able to buy their own land. It was a tract later owned by L. O. Gates. They cleared enough of the land to build a home of their own. It was a one-story home with a side window and a blanket to serve as a door. Isaac worked at the mill at night and farmed in the daytime as best he could. He finished his one at this time.
Fortune fell upon them and they were able to buy more land. They moved to a new log house situated near the junction of the Beaver Dam and Slatelick Run, now covered by Glendale Lake. By this time Isaac had secured his own lumber mill and his principal business was lumbering. In the new house they reared their family consisting of Matilda, John, Lafayette, Joel, Isaac, and Perry. Mary and Hannah died in their youth.
Mr. Mary Gates, wife of Isaac, Sr. gave her heart to God in 1840 and united with the United Brethren Church. She was a life-long member of sixty-nine years. In her lifetime she helped erect three churches in the area; the one at Fiske, the church at Beaver Valley founded in 1864 and the present brick edifice dedicated in 1907.
Nathan Gates, born November 17, 1813 and Levi Gates, born on May 20, 1816 and Joel Gates who was born on December 14, 1819 were also instrumental in erecting the first church. There were other families in the valley who helped in the erection of the first church building.
CHURCH OFFICIALS -- 1964
The present Trustee Board consist of John Gates, President; Charles Kingston, Secretary; Harold Kutruff, Treasurer; and Perry Esch and Blain Stevens. These men are also members of the Beaver Valley Cemetery Board.
The Sunday School Superintendent is Lynn Kidwell, the assistant is Charles Kingston. Janet Ansley is president of the W. S. W. S.; John Gates is president of the E. U. B. Men; Ronald Gates is president of the Youth Fellowship. Mrs. Blaine Stevens is Communion Steward.
BEAVER VALLEY CEMETERY
In 1860 George Walters gave the people of the area one-half acre for the church and one-half acre to the rear for a burial ground. In 1880 Mr. Walters gave an additional piece of ground for the cemetery. Additional ground was purchased in 1905, 1933 and in 1963. Perpetual care for $50 per lot was established by the trustees. The new purchase has not yet been developed.
THE SECOND CHURCH -- 1907 TO 1964
At the Quarterly Conference held in the church at Coalport on February 28, 1907 the following is taken from the minutes of that session.
"After prayer by the pastor the matter of repairing the Beaver Valley Church was brought up. On motion it was decided that whenever the trustees had three-quarters of the amount they considered sufficient to do the work, that they be empowered to begin work on a new church at B. V.."
P. A. Esch, Secretary
At a special meeting called on March 24, 1907 it was noted in the minutes that the church trustees signed the Certificate of Incorporation.
The board of Trustees at this time was composed of Mrs. E. M. Strayer, President; Mr. Benjamin J. Gill, Secretary; and Mrs. Isaiah Gates, Treasured; and Joseph I. Esch, and Perry A. Esch.
The Building Committee was comprised of Isaiah M. Yearick, Joel A. Gates, and Perry A. Esch. The pastor was Rev. H. A. Buffington. Dr. J. S. Fulton was Conference Superintendent and Dr. J. A. Mills was Bishop. All were members of the old Allegany Conference.
The proceedings of the Seventieth Annual Session of the old Allegheny Conference of 1908 contains this item:
"Corner-Stone Laying - The corner-stone of the Beaver Valley Church, Coalport Charge, was laid by the pastor, H. A. Buffington, November 3, 1907. The church will cost above $5, 000."
These record also show that the pastor received a salary of $675.00 with presents received of $20.00 Parsonage rent was valued at $125.00 per year. We subscribed as a charge to 21 Religious Telescopes and 29 Watchwords. The charge had 216 members, 19 new members were received on Profession of Faith. 59 were lost for various reasons and the membership at the close of 1907 was 174. We had 287 enrolled in our two Church schools.
Money to pay for the church was raised by the various church societies. The Class of Mrs. Yearick raised $400.00. Box socials were held and dime folders distributed. Some money was borrowed from Mr. Pete Esch. Because everyone worked together our present beautiful church building became a reality.
The new church was dedicated on July 21, 1908 on a Sunday.
This newspaper article appeared on the above date:
"The work of Rev. H. A. Buffington, formerly of Johnstown, but now pastor of the Coalport Charge of the United Brethren Church, was reflected in the dedication Sunday of the handsome new EUB Church at Beaver Valley. The church was erected at a cost of $5, 218."
The new church was damaged by fire on January 8, 1909. A newspaper clipping of this date carried this article:
"Coalport - The United Bretheren Church at Beaver Valley near here, was damaged by fire last night. This edifice, of which Rev. H. A. Buffington is pastor, was dedicated last fall. The loss is covered by insurance."
The church has also been struck several times by lightning. Once during daily Vacation Bible School. On all occasions there were no injuries but repairs had to be made from resulting fires.
There were no physical changes made to the church until the year 1964 when the section of the church opposite from the choir loft was remodeled to conform to the choir section and a platform was extended in front of the church. The improvements were made in connection with the installation of the new altar area that same year. Anew Altar table, pulpit, lectern, baptismal font, bronze cross, candlesticks, flower vases, flags, pulpit scarves and lectern scarves and bookmarks were purchased from the bequest given to the church by Mr. Ross W. Singleton. The walls and floor of the church have been refinished and new carpet has been installed.
The people of the church were justly proud of their refinished sanctuary and it is the hope of the present pastor that every member of the church will more fully commit himself to the work of the Kingdom and the winning of souls to Jesus Christ.
BEAVER VALLEY PARK BUILT
The annual beaver Valley Picnic was primarily responsible for the construction of the present park area. Due to lack of water and sanitary facilities, inadequate kitchen facilities, and the fact that the church did not own the land led to a meeting in September 1959 of the Union Sunday School Committee at which time it was decided to cancel the lease and remove the buildings to the present park. This was done by November of that year.
Pastor Singleton felt that a new picnic area was necessary and an initial meeting was called for February 3, 1960 at the church. At this time plans for the new park were presented to those present. Mr. Blaine Stevens stressed that unless plans are formulated now the site will not be ready for picnic day. Rev. Singleton asked the entire community to get behind these efforts and to bring with them their suggestions at the next meeting.
Members of the Executive committee at this time were Blaine Stevens, William Nelson, Bernard Kingston, Enid Kutruff, Harold Kutruff, Perry Esch, Ethel Bollinger, Harvey Glass and John Gates.
The group at the first meeting set February 17 as the date for the second meeting and instructed a committee to draw up plans for an new recreation building and kitchen and outdoor dining hall. This committee was composed of Bernard Kingston, William Nelson, Harold Stevens, Philip Kutruff and Rev. Singleton.
The second public meeting was held at the church on February 17. The plans for the new building called for toilets, hot and cold water, kitchen facilities, class room. Cinderblock construction was suggested and also it was suggested lumber from the temporary building from Third Church stored in the Kutruff barn be salvaged. The recommendations were adopted by those present.
Shortly thereafter cash and pledges amounting to $510 were reported by the pastor. In April the lumber from the Kutruff barn was moved to the park site and in May a bull dozer worked over the site of the new building. An appeal for stoves, kitchen equipment of all kinds was put forth. A hot water system was donated at this time.
Three men especially donated endless hours of work, they were William Nelson, Blaine Stevens, and Bernard Kingston as well as Philip Kutruff, Thomas Fletcher, Harold Kutruff. In the process of building almost everyone in the community participated either in work days on Saturdays or at other times.
over $1,500 was raised in the first year. Using lumber from the Third Church building the building was roofed and the kitchen and outside dining hall were erected. Hot water tank was installed and lavatories were also completed. By picnic day 1960 the park was used for the first time.
In August 1960 at the evening service, with over sixty in attendance the park and its facilities were dedicated to the glory of God. Each one who contributed labor was recognized by being given a certificate. Mr. Raymond Rickar, Mr. J. Leonard Adam and Mr. Thomas Adam were given recognition for their donation of equipment and labor. It was a time of real joy for the folks at Beaver Valley.
A constitution and By-Laws were adopted and an annual meeting is held to elect new officers and adopt a budget. There have been two superintendents: Mr. Blaine Stevens and Mr. William Nelson. The present officers are as follows: Sup't. , William Nelson, Ass't. Sup't. Lynn Kidwell; Secretary-Treasurer, Martha Traveny and Ernest Traveny. The pastor is an ex-officio member. The park committee works in close cooperation with the church in every area.
We thank God for his providence in giving us this recreation area. It is being used by the entire community and has taken all but worship activities out of the church sanctuary. The area will be improved each year.
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